So, as it was, because I just couldn’t conceive, as a missionary, giving Rwanda what it wanted, Taekwondo, for nine months I absolutely rejected the idea. I kept pushing the other projects of rocket stoves and biomass charcoal.
Sometimes we need additional voices. So, God, in His mercy kept prodding me. Two particular events occurred to push me over the edge to “go for it”.
The first was in September of 2009 when after being cajoled by at least five people, I finally agreed to meet with those interested in Taekwondo and saw they had the skills to actually be masters of the art. Twenty of them gathered and they were great. As well, even now, I remember how they began to share with me, that as a small group they had trained together for several years and the sport had helped them overcome many of the challenges they faced after the genocide.
The second occurred the following February. I had since agreed to dabble in the idea of Taekwondo but was not fully committed as the other projects seemed more plausible and more deeply impacting. I had gone to Kenya and Uganda and while there had made time to train with a Taekwondo master, Peter Kamau. He knew my history as a runner and if you know much about sport physiology, running and Taekwondo can be very incompatible as running can really decrease flexibility. As we trained together, he asked, “Martin, why are your kicks so bad? Have you been running again?” I answered that I had, yes, been running a little (in truth I had been toying with the idea and treating with God, that if it be sport, then why not the sport I was best at, i.e. running). In reality, I had trained over one hundred miles the previous week driven by pride and human intellect for sure. Peter then stated, oh so very boldly, “Listen, running is not what God has given you to do! It is Taekwondo that he has given you to give to Rwanda!” I considered this for a couple of weeks, but kept running hard daily and trying to get “in” with the national athletics federation. Promptly, I was injured in my right heel, and couldn’t run a step; but irony set in, when I realized, even with the injury, I could do all the Taekwondo I wanted!
Wow, am I hard headed or what? Oh, for the day, when God doesn’t have to use a plank of wood across my head to get me to listen!
So, we gathered them, began training them in ernest, and waited on God to see what would happen next.
Isaiah 55:8,9. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.